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EEOC Says Penn Engaged in Gender Discrimination

THE U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that the University engaged in gender discrimination two years ago when it hired a woman crew coach without considering a male coach who wanted the job ["Gazetteer," March 1998]. The ruling carries no legal penalty, though the EEOC has the option of filing a federal suit against the University, as does the aggrieved coach.
   
In his complaint, filed in October 1997, Andrew Medcalf, Penn’s assistant men’s rowing coach (a position he still holds), stated that Stanley Bergman, head coach of men’s and women’s crew, had recommended him for the position after reviewing numerous applications, but was told that Penn would not hire a man for the position. Medcalf, whose 15 years of coaching experience includes seven years at Penn, also charged that he was told by Carolyn Schlie Femovich, senior associate director of athletics, that "We’re going to get a woman at least as good as you, if not better." When two members of the women’s rowing team urged that Medcalf be hired, the complaint stated, Femovich "advised them of her intention to hire a female coach so that women rowers could have a ‘strong female role model.’
   
Femovich testified to the EEOC that she "encouraged the director of men’s and women’s programs to look for strong women candidates, but not exclusively." The woman hired was Barb Kirch CGS’84, who had been head women’s rowing coach at Dartmouth College for nine years as well as a two-time Olympian while a student at Penn.
   
"We are absolutely convinced that Barb Kirch was the best candidate, male or female," said Kenneth Wildes, director of University communications, in a statement. He pointed to her position at Dartmouth as well as her role as head coach of the U.S. Junior Women’s National Team and as a "policy-maker in the highest levels of her sport, including service with the NCAA and the U.S. Women’s Olympic Rowing Committee."
   
Noting that Medcalf has "never been the head coach of an Ivy League program," Wildes added: "We believe that the charge made by Mr. Medcalf was absolutely without merit; the EEOC determination of probable cause has not altered that view."
   
Medcalf’s attorney, Lawrence R. Woehrle, said that "if the EEOC does not institute a civil action against the University, I will on behalf of Mr. Medcalf."
   
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Copyright 1999 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 8/23/99